February 15, 2009

Training on a Tight Budget

Does this situation sound familiar? Trina is a Leadership Development Director, she just received word that her 2009 Leadership Development Plan has been approved except for her budget, which was cut by 50%. Trina is looking for creative ideas on how she will accomplish her training objectives with a lot less money.

How about you? Are you looking for creative ideas to make the most of your tight training budget this year? During this down economy employers are struggling not only with financial challenges but also employee motivation issues. Employees are fearful right now…about their jobs, the jobs of their friends and relatives, and the health of their country and company. One way to improve morale is to continue to invest in the growth of your employees. Employees, who feel they are still learning and growing, develop hope for the future. Providing leadership training is essential during this challenging time, because it is your managers who interact with your employees on a daily basis and directly influence morale.

So what do you do if your budget is tight or almost non-existent? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Determine the top three priorities for your company: Priorities change all the time especially during tough economic times. The training you planned in January 2008 may not fit the current reality. Determine the top training topics that will contribute to the current priorities and postpone or eliminate other topics. For example in 2009, a workshop on Managing Change may be more important than Employee Retention.

2. Analyze where you have spent your training dollars: Make a chart with all your expenditures. For example how much did you spend on outside facilitators, public workshops, travel and living expenses, training materials, etc. Determine areas that can be reduced this year or look for alternative methods.

3. Look for alternative training methods: ELearning can be substituted for some classroom training or combined in a blended approach for less time in the classroom and less facilitator paid time. Internal Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) can be trained to deliver training instead of hiring outside experts. Packaged, off-the-shelf facilitator kits can be purchased to reduce the cost of outside facilitation. Self study “book clubs” can be started where managers read the latest leadership books and exchange ideas on how to use the content in their jobs. Discussion boards on leadership topics can be created on company intranet sites.

With a little creativity you can continue to offer training and grow your employees. Involving all stakeholders in the planning process will ensure you are choosing the right topics and methods to fit your audience and increase their commitment to your organization.

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